The Revolution Will Be Televised: Asia’s Quick March to a Digital Future

Asia is in the midst of a digital transformation. Across the continent, Asian service providers are leading the way for some of the most advanced home entertainment experiences in the world. But what’s even more exciting are the incredible advances they’re making to bring these experiences to billions of consumers.

Service providers in many countries in Asia are leapfrogging entire technology generations. In some emerging markets, for example, broadband providers are going straight from dial-up to fiber broadband, while video providers are transitioning from analog to digital MPEG-4, completely bypassing MPEG-2 in the process.

These broad deployments of next-generation technology have a number of advantages. From a business perspective, they’re enabling local providers to unleash top-of-the-line services that are heads and shoulders above the competition’s offerings. And for consumers, it means that the future will arrive sooner—with faster speeds, smarter devices, and the latest entertainment coming on the heels of these cutting-edge deployments.

Even in areas without ‘straight to tomorrow’ trajectories, local providers are upgrading networks and technology at a pace that exceeds much of the world. It reflects the fact that Asia, as a market, is more competitive than ever before.

Among the biggest growth trends in Asia is the digitization of cable networks, fueled in large part by government mandates for nationwide infrastructure advancements. The resulting leaps in technology generations are changing the way that Asian providers introduce new services like network DVR. For example, in China, where few have ever owned a VCR, there is no interest in hitting the record button to watch something later. Chinese consumers expect providers to offer all shows—past and past—whenever they want them.

Asian providers are anticipating these new experiences as well as idiosyncratic expectations of their local consumers using a combination of technology and market insight. Content consumption across wireless networks is huge in Asia, as is multiscreen. In addition to investing in new network technology to handle the inevitable shift to multi-gigabit broadband, providers are also racing to ensure that there’s enough Wi-Fi coverage throughout consumers’ homes to take advantage of those speeds and power tomorrow’s TV in every room.

According to the ARRIS Consumer Entertainment Index 2015, consumers in Asia-Pacific experience challenges when it comes to WiFi:  four out of every five Chinese consumers reported issues with their Wi-Fi. Add that to the nearly three-quarters of respondents who indicated that they want high-speed Internet in every room, and quickly the notion of generation-hopping both network infrastructure and home networking technology begins to make sense.

Whether it’s deploying network extenders, the latest DOCSIS devices, or laying fiber and shifting to all-IP networks, Asian service providers are setting a global example for the introduction of tomorrow’s entertainment. And very soon, Asian consumers will be the ones enjoying the fruits of falling technology prices, highly competitive markets, government incentives, and forward-looking service providers. The TV revolution in Asia is alive and very real indeed.

Does your TV know you better than your partner?

We’d like to think that we know all there is to know about our better halves—from their favorite color to their least favorite food. But do you know what they like to watch on TV when no one’s around? What their guilty pleasures are?

Your TV does. And if it doesn’t now, it will very soon, as our viewing technology gets better and better.

Among the things that make today’s TV so good is that there are so many options—hundreds and thousands of choices for channels, shows, and movies. Yet with all this choice comes the unique challenge of having to choose what to watch. But if your TV better understood your preferences, you’d no longer have to do any searching. The promise of TV technology is spending less time browsing, and more time enjoying your night in.

This technology is growing increasingly capable, thanks to big data. It can analyze everything from plot lines and actors to genres and ratings, even keywords from closed captioning. And combined with our own viewing history and chosen favorites, it’s making it easier and easier for us to quickly find what to watch.

This Valentine’s Day, you already have to worry about what to wear, what to gift, what to eat, and what to say. If we had our way with TV, at least we wouldn’t have to figure out what to watch.

The thought of data-driven TV technology might not be the most romantic concept, but if it spares you an argument, saves you time, gets you what you want, and lets you sit back and relax… well… if nothing else, it’s a beautiful idea to fall in love with.

What’s Driving the Future of TV in Latin America?

TVLast week, we looked at the three biggest trends behind tomorrow’s TV at CES. Today, we’re uncovering two more that are transforming TV in Latin America:

Time-Shifted TV (TSTV): Tomorrow’s TV will be on consumers’ terms.

TV will become a customized experience. TSTV will give consumers whatever they want to watch, whenever they want to watch it, and on any device. This on-demand content paradigm disrupts liner ad-driven TV in favor of alternatives like DVR, TV Everywhere, and OTT…  and they are quickly becoming the norm.

UI/UX Transformation: The future starts with the way we experience TV.

More content, on more devices, more often. That’s today’s problem. Consumers need new ways to navigate the growing and increasingly fragmented libraries of digital content. The future is a unified and familiar experience that anticipates what consumers want and allows them to enjoy it easily on any device.

These trends reveal the increasingly personalized and human-centric approaches to tomorrow’s TV. The implications transcend superficial changes to the medium itself, going so far as to change the ways in which we watch it as well as the space that it occupies in our lives.

The Three Biggest Trends Behind Tomorrow’s TV

TVThe Future of TV was one of the hottest topics of discussion at CES last week. But while newer, bigger, thinner displays; virtual reality goggles; and LED and HDR innovations may have gotten most of the headlines, the underlying technology that enables those innovations was the focus of meetings in and around the show with the world’s leading service providers.

In fact, it really boils down to three incredibly important developments that are quietly transforming TV and the way that service providers will deliver it:

Multi-gigabit Services: This is the biggest development powering the future of TV.

Service providers are upgrading to multi-gigabit pipelines, because today’s TV services sip bandwidth compared to the waterfall of bandwidth that tomorrow’s applications—from 360-degree entertainment, to holographic video and virtual reality—are destined to use.

4K Video over Wi-Fi: 4K is here, but it needs faster Wi-Fi to be everywhere.

The 100 Mbps it takes to stream 4K content to a single device is sorely lacking from most Wi-Fi networks. Given our current appetite for HD content, the inevitability of ubiquitous 4K makes the case for upgrading the content delivery pipeline not only to the home, but throughout it. The answer: gigabit Wi-Fi access points and extenders in the home.

Over the Top (OTT) Set-tops: All of the world’s content is coming to a single screen.

We watch traditional TV, and we watch OTT TV. For most of us, they’re two separate experiences, but soon we’ll be able to enjoy both over a single user experience on our TV, because OTT capabilities are coming to set-tops. Service providers are preparing to deploy these new devices so that we easily can watch anything we want, on the best screen available.

As the hottest technology starts making its way into our local stores and shopping lists, these three trends will be making it all work in millions of homes around the world.

Cable Congress Continues with Charles Cheevers Q&A

Latest_Bio_Pic_Cheevers_Charles

Charles Cheevers, CTO, Customer Premises Equipment

The role of the set-top device/gateway is changing, how?

I think of the gateway and set-top device as Batman and Robin – an inseparable double team. Together they provide network services, high-quality IP Video images, and true entertainment platforms capable of new multi-room, multiscreen services. This will continue to transform our experience around various types of video content – gateways will become more powerful with greater bandwidth capabilities, alongside set-tops getting more powerful in both Graphics and Decode ability. Ultimately, Wi-Fi services will also become more important as MSOs increase their managed IP Video services as well as higher speed Wi-Fi High Speed Data expectations.

How will these changes impact devices? 

We’ll see a refresh of gateway devices, incorporating new features such as additional memory to allow for new applications and future services. We aim to keep the gateway form factors as small and ergonomic as possible as we see these devices potentially moving to different demarcation points in the home. Set-top devices are becoming smaller and smaller, but these devices are now expected to deliver richer and more powerful user experiences which typically means more CPU and GPU capabilities as well as more robust WiFi functionality.

What are the three largest challenges the industry is facing and what can service providers do to overcome these?

The user experience – as consumers look to ‘cord shave’ and rely more on over-the-top (OTT) services, providers need to ensure the best customer experience in terms of quality, content and overall user experience. Initiatives like Comcast’s  X User Experience and ARRIS’s own Whole Home Solution and DreamGallery™ offerings ensure the service provider experience stays ahead of the pure OTT experience.

Wireless transmission of high bit rate video in the home – consumers love wireless technology and the flexibility it offers and as our set-top devices become more connected, this connection needs to be as reliable as a wired connection. WiFi will be a key factor as more client devices appear in our homes.

Simplifying the consumer viewing experience – with a bewildering array of connected devices and multiple ways to access content, it can overwhelm consumers who just want a simple means of interacting with their entertainment services in a way that is affordable and incorporates the highest quality experience. Constant vigilance from service providers will be necessary to make the user experience rich but simple – something we think we understand well at ARRIS.

How is ARRIS looking to drive The ‘Connected Experience’ e.g. the ARRIS gateway?

ARRIS offers everything you need to provide a high quality and robust solution with routing capability for the home. We get the consumer connected quickly and reliably to all home and connected devices.  We also strive to add innovative new interfaces like ZigBee® as we know consumers are becoming increasingly connected. Finally, we pride ourselves on our test and interoperability procedures as well as our huge existing population of gateway devices connected to hundreds of millions of end devices.

What does ARRIS predict the entertainment system will look like in 3-5 years’ time?

People talk a lot about moving to a completely unicast world but the statistics still don’t support this – real-time content is still something that people want to watch live for the most part. There is no one-size fits all trend, but the movement towards accessibility of all content types on any device will continue to grow and simplify – to a point where we will wonder what all the fuss was about when we could first pause and resume across devices! Also, we’ll see a new interaction with entertainment services – new viewing styles like “binge watching” will rise alongside people still wanting to catch the news or sports events live, as well as familiar watching such as viewing late night shows late at night.

What or who inspires you on a day to day basis?

To me it’s not about being happy that we can download a full DVD of content in under a minute with emerging Gbps DOCSIS networks, it’s about challenging why we can’t do it in 2 seconds. I’m inspired by how technology has changed so much in such a short time. If this pace continues we may actually reach a no wait/no latency world in my lifetime – or find new services that will demand even more bandwidth. Both are exciting prospects and if we can keep our focus on using technology, and not being used by it, then this new world of low latency interaction will help us multi-task less and give us more time to create and learn things.

If you’re at Cable Congress, check out Charles’ panel on the changing role of the STB on March 14. See you in Amsterdam.

Five Questions with…Bob Swanson

Arris, Orlando, Florida 2014

Bob Swanson, Regional Vice President of Sales

To continue our “Five Questions” series, we spoke with Regional Vice President of Sales, Bob Swanson, about the evolution of the retail industry, expectations for the retail sector in the coming year, and some of the industry’s biggest trends.

How has the retail industry evolved since you started, and what changes do you expect to see over the next three to five years?
As a 25-year veteran of the retail industry, I have seen it change quite a bit.

Shopping is no longer limited to brick-and-mortar retail stores, and consumers now crave an omni-channel experience. Years ago, a customer might research a product using catalogs or mailers, but there’s been a shift in power to the everyday consumer. Today’s consumers now rely on the Internet to find information and already know what they want before stepping foot into the store.

Over the next three to five years, I believe mobile will continue to expand as a channel consumers leverage to research and purchase products. For retailers, it’s important that all those channels (online, mobile, and physical stores) work together to present a seamless experience for consumers.

What did ARRIS show from the retail sector at CES?

Multiscreen was a popular topic at this year’s CES (Jan 7-10). For us, it’s about bringing the home networking experience to the next level to enable those experiences—making it easier to connect to the home network and ensuring that the network can support all the new connected devices…smartphones, laptops, gaming consoles and more. At the show, we had several connectivity solutions—such as modems and gateways—that are the focal point of this new connected home ecosystem.

In your opinion, what are two to three of the biggest trends in the retail industry?
The largest trend centers around reinventing the customer experience by delivering a seamless retail experience.

There are three driving forces behind that: mobility, customer-centric support, and the online experience. In addition to the use of mobile apps and online resources, customers also expect personalization when they shop. They don’t want to just be a number. Therefore, retailers are looking at more service-oriented products. All of these channels come together to create an overall customer impression.

Another key trend is customer data and analytics to personalize marketing. Retailers today have a better understanding of their consumers’ needs and shopping behaviors, which enables companies to adapt sales approaches and preference to provide a personalized retail experience for individual consumers.

What should the industry do to hire and inspire more people to drive the future of home networking and enhance the overall user experience?
There is pressure from Over-the-Top (OTT) video content providers that should be embraced. The whole ecosystem is evolving to a “TV anywhere” concept. Consumers want any video, anytime, anywhere, and on any device. But these multiscreen experiences rely on the network to deliver a smooth, fast, and easy-to-use experience.

The more we showcase how these innovations drive tomorrow’s problem solvers—whether that’s creating and operating a new business, researching insights for new technologies, or enabling people to see things from across the world online that they might normally not be able to see without a reliable connection—the easier it’ll be to find savvy people to work in this particular industry.

So, what’s next in retail for ARRIS?
In the near-term, we continue to invest in our retail business, with a focus on expanding our home networking presence—through new products like cable modems, gateways, and MoCA adapters.

Further out, we have an opportunity to build on that investment by bringing other product categories to retail with guidance from our Service Provider customers. This addresses the growing CE trend of home networking devices being sold at retail and becoming self-install (vs. sold and installed via service providers). We can see this trend possibly evolving into a hybrid retail model, which gives consumers greater flexibility to choose their home networking equipment and have the option for either self install or operator install with device management still supported through the operator network.

Our unmatched retail presence in the retail modem/gateway market, along with our outstanding relationships with global service providers, uniquely positions ARRIS to deliver this next stage for the industry.

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